Sunday, May 8, 2016

Gap Year Q3 Summary

A little bit behind on the blog, but here’s my Q3 recap!  If you don’t care, then don’t read it.

Total time spent:  91.67 days and 92 nights
Start:  Night of Tuesday, January 12 at Tokyo Narita Airport
End:  Afternoon of Wednesday, April 13 at Quito Airport

Continents visited:  3 (including my first time in South America!)
1.  North America:  73%
2.  Europe:  13%
3.  South America:  12%
In transit between continents:  2%

Regions visited:  5
1.  North America:  37.4%
2.  Central America:  19.4%
3.  Caribbean:  15.4%
4.  Northern Europe:  13.0%
5.  South America:  11.9%
In transit between regions:  3.0%

Countries visited:  8
1.  United States:  27.00 days / 28 nights  (29.8%)
2.  United Kingdom:  11.83 days / 12 nights  (13.0%)
3.  Ecuador:  10.83 days / 11 nights  (11.9%)
4.  Cuba:  10.33 days / 10.5 nights  (11.3%)
5.  Costa Rica:  10.00 days / 10 nights  (10.9%)
6.  Nicaragua:  7.67 days / 8 nights  (8.5%)
7.  Mexico:  6.67 days / 7 nights  (7.4%)
8.  Dominican Republic:  3.67 days / 4 nights  (4.1%)
In transit between countries:  3.67 days / 1.5 nights  (3.2%)

And just for fun – time spent in countries that drive on the:
1.  Left side of the road:  14%  (UK)
2.  Right side of the road:  86%  (everywhere else)

Border crossings:  9
-  8 border crossings by air
-  1 land border crossing (on foot from Costa Rica to Nicaragua)

Airports visited:  15 (up from 10 and 13 in Q1 and Q2)
Tokyo (Narita), Abu Dhabi, London (Heathrow), London (Gatwick), Fort Lauderdale, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Santo Domingo, Mexico City, Havana, Panama City, San Jose (Costa Rica), Managua, Quito, Baltra (Galapagos)

*My flights from Quito to Baltra and back also landed to pick up and drop off passengers in Guayaquil, but I didn’t get off the plane so it doesn’t really count.

Airlines flown:  9 (up from 5 and 6 in Q1 and Q2)
Etihad, Norwegian, Southwest, American, Spirit, Volaris, Aeromexico, Copa, Avianca

1.  Friends and family:  39 nights  (42% - UK and USA)
2.  Hostels:  26 nights  (28% - Latin America, though I often had a private room)
3.  Guesthouse/Homestay:  18.5 nights  (20% - Latin America including “casa particulares” in Cuba)

Other types of accommodation:  camping (Galapagos), hotels (1 night in Houston, 2 in Quito), and airplanes (woohoo!)

Bathroom situation:
1.  Private bathroom:  74.5 nights  (81%)
2.  Shared bathroom:  17.5 nights  (19%)

And now, for some less statistical lists…

Top 6 Experiences (in chronological order):
Because there’s more good than bad, I’m keeping my trend of doing 6 top experiences and 5 bottom experiences.

1.  Seeing family and friends – I got to visit friends and family in the UK and USA, and meet up with friends in Cuba/Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  It was nice catching up with familiar faces!
2.  Mexico City food porn – I fucking love Mexican food and Mexico City provided one foodgasm after another.  Heaven.  Eating the Tex-Mex in Texas was orgasmic too!
3.  Teotihuacan tour – My tour to Teotihuacan from Mexico City was fantastic.  The sights were great, the guide was great, and crossing off one of my 103 Things was great!
4.  Monteverde zip line – Another of my 103 Things, I can’t say that I wasn’t terrified at the start, but zip lining ended up being a ton of fun!
5.  Galapagos Islands – These islands were stunners.  I don’t even like animals all that much but the wildlife watching was fantastic.  This should be a must-do on everyone’s list!
6.  Quito walking tour – when the tour guide didn’t show up, two other travellers and I did our own walking tour and it turned out to be an absolutely lovely day.

Bottom 5 Experiences (in chronological order):
1.  British transport – I hate British transport.  It’s expensive.  It’s crowded.  It takes ages.  The staff are unfriendly and unhelpful.  I can’t believe the Queen lives this way.
2.  Texas Republicans – It was local election season in Texas and campaign flyers and billboards touted these assholes’ anti-gay, pro-gun, anti-choice “accomplishments”.  I was uncomfortable.
3.  Cuban pizza and sandwiches – I love Cuban food in Miami but the Cuban food in Cuba is pretty shit.  There’s only so many shitty pizzas and sandwiches you can have.  There’s no variety at all.
4.  Border crossing stress – The staff at my hostel in Monteverde told me that the border crossing to Nicaragua might take all day.  I was super stressed for 24 hours, but it ended up being a breeze.
5.  Spider shower – The campsite on Isabela Island (Galapagos) had giant spiders in the showers.  I left Australia – I shouldn’t have to deal with this shit.

There were no major mishaps in Q3.  Woohoo!

Top 3 Places I Could Live (in preferential order):
1.  London – I have a ton of friends here, there are tons of job opportunities, it’s English-speaking, and well-connected to the world!
2.  Bristol – It’s not glamorous, but it’s close to London.
3.  Mexico City – Food.

I think I’d rather live in a new Latin American city than live Florida or Texas.  Been there, done that.  I’d probably rank San Jose and Quito before the US cities I visited too.  But not Cuba.  No way.

Top 3 Places to Visit Again (in preferential order):
1.  London – I was so busy visiting friends in London that I hardly saw anything touristy.  I’d like to change that.
2.  Costa Rica – It’s a great little country and there are other parts I’d like to see.  10 days was not nearly enough!
3.  Galapagos Islands – One day when I have money, I’d like to do one of those rich bitch boat tours and check out some of the uninhabited islands.

I also wouldn’t mind checking out more of Mexico and mainland Ecuador.  It would be fun to go back to Cuba one day when communism finally disappears.

Top 3 Accommodations (in preferential order):
1.  Hostal Monte Cristi (Managua) – I only had one night here before my flight, but the room was nice and the owners were lovely and I wish I had booked in a day just to chill here.
2.  Can San Ildefonso (Mexico City) – While I wish I had stayed in a different neighbourhood, the building here was charming and the staff were super friendly.  I met some nice people too!
3.  Posada del Arenal (La Fortuna, Costa Rica) – This little guesthouse was brand new, conveniently located, had good air conditioning, and the owner was sort of a DILF.

Because I stayed in seven different family and friends’ homes, I’m not including them in this list.  That would be rude to rank them, but maybe I’ll do it quietly in my head.

The end is quickly approaching.  Noooo!  Q4 will feature an impromptu wedding (not mine), a shit ton of coffee, trying to figure out how to watch Eurovision from South America, and a visit to one of the world’s most remote islands.  But first, let me take a selfie.

Smiling after an easy border crossing into Nicaragua.

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